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Newsletter November 2010

Christmas Express at W5 Belfast

W5 Belfast - Christmas Poster

October and some of November was taken up building a train set for W5, which is a science and discovery centre in the thriving Titanic Quarter of Belfast.

The order was for two battery electric locomotives, a pair of coaches and large loop of track with two points to create an inner loop. They had decided to invest in a Christmas grotto along with a Christmas Express train to take passenger around their winter wonderland. For us it was the largest single order to date and included quite a bit of design work.

Pro 150 control board. Box at the back is the steam whistle and chuffer sound boards Drivers control from the rear coach

The set up was desinged to allow for one man operation so the rear coach had a drivers control panel along with a hand brake which allowed for the train to be braked while loading and unloading. Trains are to start running from 27th November.

One of the highlights for me was the chance to fly out and see the W5 complex for myself. With a week and a half to go before opening the track was down but construction of the elf village was still in full flow. With our modular track system, the track was laid out and joined in just over an hour. Each join is locked with two 8mm bolts.

Signal and control equipment. View from W5

It was one of the wettest days of the year (even for Northern Ireland) on my visit. I had been to Belfast before but had no idea where I was until crossing over the river. The picture on the right was taken out of the window looking across the Harland and Wolff ship yard. On the right you can see one of the two massive cranes (called Samson and Goliath) that dominate the Belfast sky line.

Having never done a business flight before I can see why it is so popular. My return flight left Belfast at 7pm and I was at home in Romford by 9.10pm.

I have been promised pictures of the completed set up which I will post here once I get them.

If you are in the Belfast area - even better go and see it for yourself. see http://www.w5online.co.uk for details. If you want to see a modern hands on interactive discovery centre (as against a museum) then you can't do much better than this.

Thanks to our suppliers who helped me out with this project

Amongst them were PNP Railways, Trax Controls, 4qd and Dave Noble.


Foot bridge covered in snow No trains today - 3-4" of snow
Workshop and yard covered in snow

We have been blessed with two lots of snow. I was lucky in a second trip to Northern Ireland as the plane only just got out of Edinburgh before it was closed for 2 days. I manged 2 days going to work int he snow but with the schools closing for a 3rd day and Barry not making it I had a Friday off.

The December snow fell on a Saturday completely covering the railway in the garden. Through out the year my dad has been adding garden lights which looked stunning in the snow. The foot prints in the station area of of the foxes which came out to play.

With the snow came the cold workshop. With a couple of fan heaters going it did eventualy get up to 12 deg, which is quite good if you keep moving.

7 1/4" Gauge Coal Wagon

After a bit of feed back the new coal wagon driving trucks have been slightly tweaked.
  • Composite foam seat (sanwich of medium and hard foam)
  • Swivel up running boards with locking hook
  • 1" taller chassis
  • 1.5" taller body
  • New narrow coupling
  • 4" wide running boards

Due to the weight we are supplying these with a lift off body which can be bolted on if required.


New Jasper Body

With the 1.5mm bodies gone which were made by outside fabricators, I have replaced it with a new style body. Made in house they have a rolled bonnet and with a curved roof. The main request I kept getting was for a split front windscreen.

Pictures of the first new body before being sent to Stockport.

Out and About

Car at Chelmsford

October/November we had our portable track at three Railway Exhibitions

It was nice to get back to 5inch gauge and its easy handling. For Chelmsford exhibition we took the points and had a second train running. We also used one of our long 4 wheel trucks which freed up the two public running coaches.

A big thanks to all those who had a ride and donated money to St Fancis Hospice. I think we are a little down on takings from last year but still worth the effort.


Barnards Farm Railway

In preperation for the W5 contract we wanted to test the new 7 1/4" gauge power bogies and coaches. Thanks toBill Dadswell who is one of the many volenteers helping lay the track at the Barnards Farm Railway.

Station area along side the grass airstrip Barry's van and loading ramp
HDPE constructed coach This railway promises to be a huge set up once complete. Unfortunately due to track laying we could only run up the side of the airstrip and across the end. Still plenty of track for our testing purposes.

Thanks to Bill for not only sorting things out for us but lending us a set of batteries from his Metropolitain locomotive, as we were so busy loading up things we forgot to pick up ours.

The power bogies utilise our standard motors and like the Trojan has two per axle but with 4 axles offers nearly twice the power. The main advantage using two motors is the reduced gear load on the main spur gears. On test we were hitting speeds of 10-12mph with plenty of spare power left.

We also took one of the W5 coaches which behaved incredibly well. Having the bogies tucked up in the chassis means they are wide but proved to be very comfortable.

see http://www.barnardsfarm.eu/railway.htm for their latest progress.

In The Workshop


It was a relief to finally get rid of the 7 1/4" gauge track and coaches. At one point I could only just reach the printer behind the stack of track. October and the first couple of weeks of November were nearly all taken up with the Christmas Express train so there is little to report.

My trusted Axminster horizontal bandsaw decided it didn't like it's new blade. After a lot of fiddling about, cursing and swearing I decided to buy a replacement saw. This time a machine with a bit of grunt. You know it is going to be big when it rolls up on the back of an artic lorry. Once again the stacker truck paid for itself.

Product News

As many of you might have noticed the 7 1/4" section is growing. It is an area we want to develope and as such we will be stopping some of our products.

  • Sorry but we simply do not have time to build colour light signals which nearly always ends up as bespoke orders. We are intending to rationalise the range and offer basic kits and components. We will be doing this to save time. If you have always fancied a fully finished feather signal with ladder then please order soon as it may be your last chance.
  • Industrial Hercules body 1.5mm steel. I have one on the shelf which has been there for over 2 1/2 years. When it is gone I will be replacing it with a different design.

2.5% VAT rise. It will be happening from 1st January 2011. In line with this we will be putting our prices up 2.5%. Sorry but we have seen so many material price increases that we cannot simply absorb the increase. If you buy before the deadline then you will be charged at the old rate.

Christmas Opening

We will be closing early on 24th December and opening again 5th January 2011. As always I will be on the phone for emergencies.

Sorry ran out of time for the 10 years of the website.

Have a good festive break and hope you join us again in the new year.

All the best for now - Paul

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